Stakeholders in the Danish organic sector have been discussing the case for a new ‘organic+’ label.

This was the topic that generated most debate, and most divided opinion, in a series of 29 meetings held across the country in January and February.

Debate about an additional label has been intensifying in Denmark as concern grows that current EU organic standards may be stifling innovation and growth.

A frequent question raised about launching an additional mark, is would it undermine Denmark’s national organic label. In an interview with Økologisk Landsforening, Per Kølster, chairman of Organic Denmark, the country’s lead organic body comments: “That’s the last thing we want to do. We have fought for the E-mark (Eco mark, or Økologisk in Danish) for over 25 years, and we will of course continue to do so. The challenge is that the organic label is 100% tied to EU rules, and it has proved virtually impossible to write, for example, demands for climate or natural actions into the EU regulatory framework.”

Kølster adds: “It has been quite an eye opener to many that the EU sets a ceiling on what we can with the organic label.”

“It has been quite an eye opener to many that the EU sets a ceiling on what we can with the organic label”

Organic Denmark is concerned that the EU Organic Regulation is failing to allow organic agriculture to develop to its full potential and be accorded proper recognition for its crucial role in sustainable food and farming.

But the organization is wellaware that opinions on a new organic+ brand are divided. And there is almost universal agreement that the last thing anyone needs are more rules. So organic+ is being seen more in terms of a supplemental scheme, which would recognize systematic good practice, perhaps through a new diploma scheme. Key to the successful enhancement of organic systems in the future, says Kølster, is greater freedoms at grass roots level and high levels of collaboration across the organic sector.

Other issues which came under discussion in the recent stakeholder meetings included climate change, biodiversity, social responsibility and sustainable inputs.